The American Title Insurance Industry

The American Title Insurance Industry

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After World War II, banks and other mortgage lenders began requiring insurance to protect them against flawed or defective real estate titles. Over the past sixty years, the title insurance industry has grown steadily in size, power, and secrecy: policies are available for both lenders and property owners and many title insurers offer an array of other real estate services, such as escrow and appraisal. Yet details about the industrya€™s operational procedures remain closely guarded from public exposure. In The American Title Insurance Industry, Joseph and David Eaton present evidence that improvements in recordkeeping over the last sixty yearsa€”particularly the advent of computersa€”have reduced the likelihood of a defective title going unnoticed in a property transaction. But the industrya€™s flaws run deeper than mere obsolescence: in most states, title insurers are allowed to engage in anticompetitive business practices, including price-fixing. Among the findings in this meticulously researched study are instances of insurers charging premiums well above the amount necessary to compensate them for assuming the risk of defect and identical policies with identical risk that vary in price by hundreds of percentage points for different geographic locations. The authors also examine the widely ignored role that the federal and most state governments play in perpetuating the title insurance industrya€™s unfair practices. Whereas most private industries prefer as little government intervention as possible, title insurers welcome it. Federal statue exempts title insurers from anti-trust liability, opening the door for price-fixing and destroying any semblance of free-market competition or market power for consumers. A landmark study for elected officials, and all those involved in the insurance, real estate, and brokerage industries, The American Title Insurance Industry brings to light a long-neglected problema€”and offers suggestions for how it might be remedied.Losses due to encroachments on the land by adjoining property owners or prior undischarged mortgages registered against titles are also covered ... First Canadian Title Companya#39;s Golden Eagle policy for a lender is even more cost effective.

Title:The American Title Insurance Industry
Author: David Eaton, Joseph W Eaton
Publisher:NYU Press - 2007-08-01

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